What Were Some Laws in the Code of Hammurabi?

One law in the Code of Hammurabi states that a person who accuses another of a capital offense should be put to death if he cannot prove the accusation. Another law excuses a debtor from paying rent or paying back a loan in a year in which his grain harvest fails or is destroyed by drought or storm. One law states that a son who strikes his father should have his hands cut off.

The Code of Hammurabi granted many protective rights to disenfranchised parties while establishing a hierarchy of punishment based on rank. For example, one marital law prohibits a man from putting aside a wife who protracts a disease. He is allowed to take a second wife, but must support and care for the first wife for the rest of her life. In the famous “eye for an eye” laws, the equal punishment only applies when the victim is of the gentry. If the victim is a commoner, the perpetrator owes one mina of silver, and if the victim is a slave, the perpetrator owes the master half the value of the deceased slave.

The code also discouraged others from making false accusations, as plaintiffs were at risk of suffering punishment if they could not provide evidence of wrongdoing. For example, an accuser forfeited his life and home if the accused jumped into the river and survived unhurt. If a judge made an error, he was banned from practicing and required to pay a penalty 12 times greater than the fines he originally set.